UPDATED John Edwards Trial: Judge Declares Mistrial
Updated, 4:40pm EST. The judge presiding over the trial of former US presidential candidate John Edwards has declared a mistrial after the jury was only able to reach a unanimous verdict on only one of the six counts. The jury found Edwards not guilty of a single count of not receiving illegal contributions.
After nine days, the jury in the trial of former US presidential candidate John Edwards has reached a verdict on one of the six counts against him and has been ordered to resume deliberation. MSNBC reports that a unanimous verdict has been reached on count 3, under which Edwards was charged with receiving contributions from billionaire heiress Rachel “Bunny” Mellon that were in excess of federal campaign contribution limits. The jurors have not yet indicated what the verdict was.
Federal prosecutors had charged the former senator and former vice presidential candidate with using illegal campaign contributions to hide an extramarital affair with Rielle Hunter, a videographer he met during his 2008 campaign for the Democratic nomination. Edwards is accused of using almost $1 million in campaign contributions from Mellon and Fred Baron, a now-deceased trial attorney, to hide Hunter’s pregnancy during his campaign. Edwards only admitted that the child was his two years ago; one of his aides, Andrew Young, had initially claimed paternity.
According to MSNBC, both Edwards’ own attorneys and federal prosecutors depicted him as a “liar and a bad husband,” differing about whether Edwards’ scheme to hide the affair amounted to a crime. Lead defense attorney Abbe Lowell said that Edwards’ conduct was “shameful” but “human.” Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Higdon said that Edwards “clearly knew the law and decided to violate it in order to salvage his campaign” and that Edwards sought to “keep [Hunter] quiet” until the election ended and until “his wife passed away.” Edwards’ wife, Elizabeth, was fighting breast cancer at the time he admitted paternity of the child; she died in December of 2010 after separating from him.
Edwards faces up to 30 years in prison and fines of up to $1.5 billion on the six felony charges against him. Each count carries a maximum sentence of to 5 years and up to $250,000.
The jurors — eight men and four women, six of whom are white, five African-American and one Hispanic — are charged with deciding whether Edwards “knowingly and willfully” violated a 1971 campaign finance law by coordinating a plan to cover-up his affair with Hunter.
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